Lincoln’s small luxury SUV is a 2020 SUV of the Year finalist
- Sharp interior design
- Strong engine choices
- Hides Ford roots well
- Gets pricey fast
- Grabby brakes
- Overly large key fob
The 2020 Lincoln Corsair was the sleeper hit of this year’s SUV of the Year judging.
The Corsair (which replaces the MKC) rides on the same new front-drive architecture as the 2020 Ford Escape, but designers and engineers at Lincoln erased any similarities in look or feel. This is a clear case of Lincoln putting in the extra effort.
“A solid and surprising offering from Lincoln,” editor-in-chief Ed Loh said. It costs more, but there is evidence you get what you pay for.
“The Lincoln focuses much more on coddling its occupants with soft leathers, a beautiful interior design with gorgeous trim, and the latest in technology,” features editor Christian Seabaugh said. “The Corsair may not turn a corner like some in the segment, but it makes up for that with a competent, lightweight chassis, direct steering, and a punchy little engine.”
The base engine is a 250-hp, 280-lb-ft 2.0-liter turbo-four with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Or you can opt for the 295-hp, 310-lb-ft 2.3-liter turbo-four. All-wheel drive is available.
“The Corsair represents another step toward making this luxury brand relevant again,” senior production editor Zach Gale said. “Those who give it a chance and can stomach the prices will find a solid luxury crossover with smart touches. The Detroit Symphony entry chimes, the Lexus-like leather of the interior door pulls, and that clamshell rear liftgate are emotionally grabbing details.”
The Corsair 2.0T AWD starts at $39,140 USD, but our tester was optioned up to $54,375 USD. Although that’s less than the Range Rover Evoque, it’s still a chilling number. More so, the 2.3T AWD Reserve has a $45,825 USD base price, but ours listed for $65,950 USD. “Maybe that’s just how much small luxury SUVs go for these days,” Seabaugh said.
As for performance, “this little thing is quick,” features editor Scott Evans said, calling out its “stout” base engine and its “firecracker” upgrade. But some judges questioned whether the slightly larger engine is worth the cost when less than 1 second splits their times from 0 to 60.
The Corsair is fun to drive with some lean into the corners and bounce on the transitions. It feels alive and delivers a quiet and absorbent ride. It’s also an overachiever in the dirt. The AWD system will throttle-steer itself out of a corner like a rally car. But the brakes’ bite was grabby for some.
The interior gives off a midcentury modern vibe. “The interior is impressive, with soft-touch materials and high-grade leather delivering luxurious opulence—exceptional for the segment,” guest judge Johan de Nysschen said.
But executive editor Mark Rechtin differed: “Trying to shove all of the styling elements from the full-size Navigator into a compact Corsair is like trying to take a modernist sectional couch and put it in a 400-square-foot apartment. It may look really good in the giant showroom when you see it there, but it doesn’t scale down in a smaller space.”
Some judges loved the 24-way adjustable seats; others complained they felt the crossbars. Lots of praise was lavished on the rich sound from the Revel stereo system. The floating center console houses ergonomically pleasing slanted buttons. The minimal controls on the elegant steering wheel are easy to use, especially the push-to-talk button, located where your left thumb rests.
The small luxury SUV is roomy for its size, and second-row occupants get air vents, two USB ports, and a 12-volt power outlet. But the key fob is ridiculous in its size and heft.
The Corsair should appeal to young professionals who want good looks, utility, efficiency, capability, a rocking stereo, a high ride height, and a comfortable but sporty ride experience.
|2020 Lincoln Corsair||2.0T (AWD)||2.3T (AWD Reserve)|
|Base Price/As Tested||$39,140/$54,375||$45,825/$62,400|
|Power (SAE net)||250 hp @ 5,500 rpm||295 hp @ 5,500 rpm|
|Torque (SAE net)||280 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm||310 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm|
|Accel, 0-60 mph||7.3 sec||6.5 sec|
|Quarter Mile||15.6 sec @ 88.4 mph||15.0 sec @ 92.9 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||126 ft||118 ft|
|Lateral Acceleration||0.79 g (avg)||0.80 g (avg)|
|MT Figure Eight||27.7 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)||27.3 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb||21/29/24 mpg||21/28/24 mpg|